Acts 4:12 – No Other Name

When he is giving testimony in Acts 4, Peter asks if the healing of a lame man is a good deed or not. If this is an act of kindness, then it must come from God. The obvious answer seems to be yes, it is a good deed from God. If they agree it is a good deed from God, then they have a problem: Peter states the man was healed by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the one put to death by this very council only two months before!

The problem for the High Priest is obvious.  If Peter healed the man “in the name of Jesus” that means that Jesus was, at the very least, an innocent man and God is now doing miracles “in the name of Jesus.”  If Jesus was innocent, then the High Priest is guilty of killing an innocent man. If he was Messiah and actually raised to the right hand of God, then the messianic age has begun and the High Priest finds himself  “on the outside.”

The last line of Peter’s defense is a classic statement of the gospel: “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  This is a strong statement of total dedication to Jesus Christ. There is no possibility of religious pluralism, Jesus is in fact the only way, truth and life. If humans (these people before Peter or any human) expect to be right with God, they can only do it through the name of Jesus. This is really an outgrowth of the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him on his right hand (Marshall, Acts, 100). The name of Jesus is now the highest authority possible, so that Paul can say in Phil 2 that at the name of Jesus every knew will bow.

Jesus TattooThere is a remarkable boldness in this statement, but from the modern perspective of religious pluralism. The boldness is that Peter is saying this to a group of highly religious Jews who thought that they were the ones who held the right way to salvation. If you wanted to be right with God, you had to come to them and hear their interpretation of the Law and participate in worship only in the Temple, which they control.

Peter is saying that salvation now comes through Jesus, not the Temple. Little wonder why these men were shocked at Peter’s boldness!

I think this is what bothers me about popular Christianity and the rather flippant use of the “Name of Jesus.”  We have turned praying in the “name of Jesus” into code words for “I am done praying now, look up.”  People claim all sorts of goofy things in the “name of Jesus” without giving much thought at all to what that means.  It does not help to write “Jesus” out in Hebrew and tattoo it on your ankle.  This sort of thing diminishes what the name meant when Peter said, “there is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved.”

Jesus is not a magic word we use to invoke divine power, it represents the power of God for salvation.

45 thoughts on “Acts 4:12 – No Other Name

  1. I would have to agree. I think a lot of times Christians use many powerful words flippantly. It’s sad that “Jesus” has so little meaning in today’s society that it isn’t even a name anymore it’s a word people breathe in frustration. This may have something to do with the small meaning it has to those who claim He is God. I think the source of this problem is that Jesus Himself is not a real Person in many of our lives consistently enough for this disconnect to be realized. But it is amazing to know the power of God. It’s not something to be learned from books, but from knowing God. Not knowing about Him, knowing Him in a relationship. It is in this state that we can know the power of Jesus name and become familiar with the significance of speaking it. It serves as a reminder of, not an idea or belief, but of a friend, a helper, an Almighty and all powerful God who is on our side walking right with us in everything.

  2. At the time I believe Peter said Acts 4:12 as a way to show the Jews that no one is able to reach salvation without Christ. He explains it as a way to tell of Christ’s power and might. The priests were shocked because at the time Jesus was just another person to them. They did not want to accept the fact that Christ was of God. John 1:12 says “ yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” The Jews at this time had not understood of Jesus’s supremacy. Peter had time to watch, learn, and believe in Christ. In John 12:49 Christ says “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sen me commanded me what to day and how to say it.” Much like Christ, Peter is giving all the credit for the miracle to God. He is not trying to just throw accusations at the religious leaders. Today I think we take verses like Acts 4:12 too lightly. We use Christ’s name in our prayers or conversations too often. The religious leaders obviously did not take Peter’s words easily. They understood the power of such an accusation.

  3. Unconsciously here in the “Bible-believing” Western Evangelical Church, we have made Paul the name above all names, above Jesus.
    This is so much a part of the fabric of our though patterns that we don’t even notice it. Here are two examples.

    First example:
    I received a paperweight gift that had 15 “scripture memory cards”, with 15 passages from various parts of “The Bible.” So specifically, whose voices would I be memorizing in these 15 passages? Here are the statistics.
    8 Paul’s letters
    4 Jesus in the Gospels
    2 The Prophets (Joshua & Isaiah)
    1 The Letter to the Hebrews

    So the MAJORITY voice is Paul. Twice as much as the voice of Jesus. And the Law of Moses is completely absent here. The result is that we are “brainwashed” to think like Paul, talk like Paul, and act like Paul, “because Paul said so,” rather than listen to the voice of Jesus, follow Jesus, and become more like Jesus was.

    Second example,
    from of a sermon by a pastor who was making Paul the name above all names, and ignoring Jesus.

    He quoted “The Bible” a number of times, saying over and over that it’s “the word of God”, and we need to obey it. He asked people to stand up for the reading of “God’s word” – and then he read from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, chapter 3 verses 10-17. Then the sermon started.

    I was paying attention to whose voice this pastor was picking and choosing “in the Bible.” Specifically, whose words did he quote, and whose words did he NEVER quote?

    The Old Testament is composed of 3 sections – In Hebrew, it’s Torah, Nabi’im and Kethuvim, and the Jews today still abbreviate this with the acronym TaNaKh.
    The Law of Moses,
    the Prophets,
    the Writings.

    I see the New Testament as also in 3 sort of sections;
    the 4 Gospels,
    the special writings of the Gospel writers (Acts & Revelation),
    the New Testament Letters, or Writings.

    As an observation of fact not opinion, about this particular sermon;
    where was this pastor quoting from, and NOT quoting from?

    He quoted almost entirely from the “Letters / Writings” sections of the Bible. The only other quote was one verse from the 10 commandments (the Law of Moses.) Mostly he quoted Paul (2 Timothy, & Ephesians) and also from the anonymous Book of Hebrews. And he quoted Proverbs.

    Where did this pastor NEVER quote from in this particular sermon?
    The Gospels,
    Acts, Revelation
    The Prophets.
    He never quoted a single word of Jesus.

    So in this sermon, “the word of God” was almost entirely “Paul said this, and Paul said that.” The voice of Jesus was completely silent.

    “They have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Paals, as their father’s taught them.”
    Jeremiah 9

    • Matthew, you should probably be slow to judge the whole of evangelical Christianity because of a paperweight. But I get the point.

      While you are certainly correct some streams of evangelicalism are more slanted to Paul, others rarely preach/teach out of Paul, favoring Jesus. I have several books on my shelf trying to either rehabilitate Paul or connect Paul and Jesus theologically (Jesus I know, but Paul… is a favorite). A former student who interned at a rather larger local church told me “they hate Paul there,” and the staff was reading the Challenge of Jesus (NT Wright) together. On most Sundays, my guess is more sermons are preached from the Sermon on the Mount than the book of Galatians.

      I think want your are really bent about the lack of OT preaching among Evangelicals, which is a fair criticism (although there are evangelicals working in the OT, it is not completely ignored).

      • Phillip,
        Likewise, I get your point that not all “streams of evangelicalism ” are identical.

        Yet underneath the surface of your comments, perhaps I see the underlying unspoken assumption that is dominant in the Western Evangelical “Bible-believing” church. namely, that
        “All Scripture, every word of the 66 Books of The Bible, is EQUAL.”
        Or some would say, “The Bible is The Word of God.”

        But no one in the Bible itself every said all Scripture is EQUAL.
        Paul alone made the statement “All Scripture is God-breathed, (or inspired by God), once in the middle of a personal letter. But no one else ever said that, so we have no second witness to back Paul up.

        If you look at Paul’s letter to Timothy, the previous sentence (verse 15)makes it clear that Paul was not referring to his own letters as “Scripture”, since Timothy was not reading Paul’s letters in his infancy. [2 Timothy 3:15-16] Lets have the courage to read the previous verse, not just blindly chant the mantra out of context from verse 16 “All Scripture is God-breathed” with our ears closed.

        What is the SUPREME written Word of God, above all others?
        If we are literate, we pretty much all have a basic, foundational, fundamental idea, whether consciously or unconsciously, about the question:

        One more verse many Evangelicals will misquote out of context and misuse is John 14:12. They imply that the words of Paul are somehow “greater than” the words of Jesus because “Paul had the Holy Spirit” and Jesus himself said that those who came after Him “will do even greater things than these.”

        In truth,
        Jesus said:
        “Anyone who has faith in me will DO what I have been DOING. He will DO even greater things than these…” [John 14:12]

        Jesus never said that someone else would SAY or WRITE even greater things than what Jesus said.

        In contrast, Jesus also said:
        “Heaven and earth will pass away, but MY WORDS will never pass away.” [Matthew 24:35]
        “Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” [Matthew 5:18]

        Paul’s words are not the word of God, and they will pass away. Even the word of God to Moses in The Law will pass away eventually. But the words of Jesus will never pass away. Jesus is not just a prophet whose words are respected, but who is equal to or underneath someone else. Jesus is above all, and Jesus’ words are above all. Paul is far inferior to Jesus, not equal. Jesus had no equal.

        Most religions people THINK they know “what is the ultimate written Word of God.” But if you stop to carefully analyze and understand what they believe and why they believe it, a simple formula emerges.
        “The words of X are the words of God because X said so.” (or at least they believe X said so.)

        One “special man” came along later with some “special writings” and said; “follow me, listen to me first, follow my example, believe what I say – my words are the words of God, because I said so.” (a) A new book dubbed “The New Testament” by the second century heretic Marcion, consisting of nothing except 10 of Paul’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke, (b) The Koran, (c) The Book of Mormon, (d) The teachings of Chuck “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” Smith, (e) fill in the name of your own personality cult….. the list goes on.

        I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Paal…
        Jeremiah 23

      • “Paul’s words are not the word of God” is problematic, since in texts like 1 Cor 7:10 he specifically states the command he gives is “from the Lord.” How ever you want to read the verse, Paul is at the very least claiming to “speak for God.” There are other examples in 1 Cor similar to this, Paul claims authority as an apostle commissioned by God (Galatians 1-2, for example).

        I *think* what you are rejecting here is the “canon within the canon” which privileges Paul’s words against the Gospels or the Jewish Christian Lit (Hebrews through Rev), or OT. While there are some people who will say only Paul (hardcore dispensationalists), there are also some who say “only Jesus” and a few I know that narrow their canon down to “just the red letters” or the Sermon on the Mount perhaps the Anabaptist tradition is the best example of this, many Brethren churches, etc.). Most Christians ignore the OT, but there is a growing movement to return tot he Jewish roots of Christianity and keep elements of the Law (thereby prioritizing the Torah over and against Paul’s theology in Romans and Galatians).

        To a large extent, this is just the way it is, denominations develop preferences, pastors preach what they like. The whole Bible equally inspired, but in practice some parts are more equal than others. It is a simple fact that it is easier to preach and apply 1 Corinthians to real-life contemporary problems people are really facing than to preach through Ezekiel 40-48 and apply it in the same way. The Sermon on the Mount is far more “applicable” than the sacrificial system in Leviticus – both are inspired, but the SotM is going to help people where they are at here and now.

        As for the anti-Paul stuff in your responses, it is not very helpful to make the Paul/Paal pun. No one prophesies through Paul, he really does cast a long shadow over the theology of the NT by interpreting the Cross and Resurrection. Like it or not, if you want to understand what Jesus did, you have to read Paul (Galatians and Romans especially). A Christian theology that ignores Romans is not really Christian.

        You seem to really angry about this, perhaps you should revive your old blog and vent some of this frustration there. That would make for some interesting reading.

      • “Phillip,
        It seems we agree that all Scripture is NOT equal in importance, relevance, or usefulness, (neither theologically nor practically speaking.) Some Scripture is “more equal than others.”

        Do you believe Paul’s words about himself are the words of God, and Paul had apostolic authority, “simply because Paul said so.” ? No one else in the pages of the Bible said that about Paul, but since Paul said so and Paul’s letters are in the Bible, that is enough for you – Paul does not need a second witness?

        You wrote:
        “A Christian theology that ignores Romans is not really Christian.”
        That is the tradition of Reformed Theology – almost like quoting from the introductory notes to “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans” from the Reformed New Geneva Study Bible. “Romans is Paul’s fullest, grandest, most comprehensive statement of the gospel……All the Reforms saw Romans as the God-given key to understanding all Scripture….The study of Romans is vitally necessary for the spiritual health, and insight of the Christian.”

        So your opinion is not unusual – you have lots of company. The Protestant Reformation was in large part a form of revived Marcionism, with Paul and his teaching in the center, rather than Jesus.

        So do you believe that the Book of Romans is the “Supreme written word of God, above all others” – the “canon within the canon”?

  4. I agree that we have lost our reverence for the name “Jesus” because of its relevancy in culture. Not only like this culturally, but we have also lost reverence for it in the church. I recently heard an entire sermon preached on grace, and in the 40 minute sermon, the name of Jesus was not mentioned once. Paul was frequently mentioned as author, minister, and everything else, but Jesus was ignored in all of it. It has become too easy for us to base all of our spirituality off of “Paul said this” and “Paul said that” while we rarely look directly to the words of Jesus for instructions on how to live our lives. Whether that is because of Jesus’ difficult parables or something else entirely, it has happened. The fact that we are saved by grace is not true because Paul wrote it, but true because of what Jesus did. I would never dare for a moment to say it is not important for we as Christians to study Paul’s writings, but I do think that if he were here to see where we’ve shifted our focus, he would be wholeheartedly disappointed and would urge us to focus on Jesus, the source of salvation and new life.

    • trentcerra,
      It seems we agree.

      Most “Bible-believing people” have the priorities of the different texts of the 66 Books of the Bible upside down. We have been unconsciously taught that the correct order is,
      .1 Paul’s autobiography – mostly in his letters / epistles
      .2) Paul’s teaching – mostly in his letters / epistles
      .3) Paul’s biography, written by Luke in Acts
      .4) Everything else in the Bible, including the testimony of Jesus

      We have been taught to view the entire Bible text through this distorted priority system – the mind of Paul. The ultimate reason for believing this view, and dozens of points in the text, is “because Paul said so.” There is no other Biblical basis.

      .1 Paul’s autobiography – mostly in his letters / epistles
      So, we have been taught that “Paul was appointed The Apostle to the Gentiles” and God gave Paul “Apostolic Authority” – simply because Paul said so. No one in the pages of the Bible agreed with Paul on this – it’s Paul’s false boastful autobiography.

      .2) Paul’s teaching – mostly in his letters / epistles
      We’ve been taught that Paul wrote; “All Scripture is God-breathed”, so we believe it MUST be true – simply because Paul said so. Again, no one else in the pages of the New Testament ever said this. And anyway, in context it is very unclear what exactly Paul was referring to by “All Scripture” and what Paul meant by “God-breathed.”

      Our tradition has equated “All Scripture” = “The 66 Books of the Bible” = “The Word of God equally” = “Ultimate Truth”, but this equation is nowhere in the text of the actual 66 Books themselves. Not even Paul ever said all Scripture was equal.

      Our tradition has also made the equation that Paul’s choice of words “God-breathed” = “The Words of God”, but this is our interpretation. No one else ever said this, so there is no basis for comparison.

      .3) Paul’s biography, written by Luke in Acts
      Based on Paul’s autobiography, and his teaching, we think we know who Paul is. So, we’ve been taught to view the Book of Acts as sort of a 5th Gospel, with Paul as the Savior to the Gentiles. One well-know pastor I contacted said specifically that “Paul was a model of maturity and his life was given to us as an example to follow.” No, No, NO! That is the personality cult of Paul. The Bible also records that King David committed adultery and murder – it means he did it, and it was wrong according to the law. It doesn’t mean we should follow his example here.

      What is the ultimate written Word of God? (and how does this relate to the words of Jesus and the text of the Bible?) That is perhaps the most important question for any literate person in the world.

      Here is an actual conversation I had with a man who had just preached a sermon in a well-known Evangelical church.
      “Me: Is Paul equal to Jesus?
      Him: No.
      Me. Are Paul’s words equal to Jesus’ words?
      Him: Yes.
      Me. Why?
      Him: All Scripture is God-breathed.”

      Here is another quote from a pastor with a PhD.
      “I will follow Paul because Paul said so. Paul doesn’t need another witness because God is his witness.”

      Their fathers forgot my name through Paal worship.
      Jeremiah 23

    • “in the 40 minute sermon, the name of Jesus was not mentioned once.” That is a serious mistake, and not really a sermon. Maybe a Coaching Talk, but not a sermon.

  5. I think that there is something significant about the name Jesus instead of referring to Him only as God. In my experience it is Jesus that causes the most controversy. If I am speaking to someone of another religion and refer to God it is not a problem. They believe in someone they call “God” and I believe in God. However, when you start referring to Jesus as God and attribute the power to heal the lame you begin contradicting their religion. I think that this is the reason that Jesus’ name is emphasized so much in this passage. For Peter to say that God healed the lame man would not have caused the same amount of controversy. However, Peter is claiming that Jesus whom they crucified is the messiah and that to be saved one must go to Jesus. The Jews believed in God but when Peter attributed the healing to Jesus it violated their belief. The Shema states that God is one. For the Jews they were not expecting Jesus. The idea didn’t align with their understanding of the scriptures and it upset them. I think the name of Jesus should be held in high regard but I would say that part of the significance is in the fact that even the idea of Jesus is different from other religions.

  6. What really irks me for my own prayer life is when a prayer is not taken to heart, especially if the person praying says “In Jesus’ name…” without a cause of heart. I can say that I’m guilty of this, but remembrance and fear of the Lord’s name is a powerful thing. As Christians, we should be like David, remembering that we were fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). However, losing that name and it’s relevance takes a toll for culture today. Shame on people who don’t do this right. In my own life, I may take into account what Jesus’ name is really meant for.

  7. When Peter questions whether or not the healing of a lame man is a good deed, he really puts the religious leaders in a tough situation. We know from James 1.17 that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow”. So if they say yes, knowing that this deed was performed in the name of Jesus, they’re condoning the very “criminal” they put to death. But, on the other hand, how could they say no? It’s interesting, however, to wonder if the religious leaders really cared at all about this beggar being healed. As stated in class last week, beggars were sort of necessary to religious society, because Jews were called to give to the poor. This healing of the poor may not have been very well received.

  8. I would add that in a world where being a good person is perceived to be enough, this message should be explained and stressed again. What I mean is that it is common for people to say “well, I am a good person”, or “I help a lot of people and I am a generally good person”, when asked if they believe they are going to heaven. We know from scripture that only through Jesus we are saved, and it is through Him that we are able to pray and speak to God, not good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).While our society acknowledges morality and has laws against doing the wrong things, the idea that there is only one way to heaven (and it is not through good works) would shock some. I am not saying that good works should be discredited, for we are encouraged to do them and to help others (Ephesians 2:10, James 2:14-17). I am saying that it is not through good works or morals that we are saved but through Jesus Christ. Through Him is the only way.

  9. I truly believe that the name of Jesus has lost almost all meaning in the modern society we live in. As you stated above, “in Jesus’ name” now means “I have finished praying”, and there is nothing heartfelt behind it. By the name of Jesus we are brought salvation, and yet now, it is looked over as though it is unimportant or just a way of ending prayer. Outside of the church, the name has gone so far as to be almost considered swearing. More often than not, if you hear the words “Jesus Christ”, it is not someone speaking about our savior, it is somebody who is using it in vain. It is truly sad to think that Jesus has lost so much meaning in our modern society today.

  10. This is a very good article, and I agree with how our culture flippantly uses the name of God not realizing how much power is behind the name of God. God is sovereign over everything and He continues to show how great He is everyday. It is just surprising to me how many people do not realize how great of a God that He is, and they will not realize it until it is too late. It is a very serious sin when people disrespect God’s name. He wrote a commandment about it for a reason. My church did a sermon on Genesis 17 when God makes a covenant with Abraham, and God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. My pastor pointed out that his name and our name is linked to God’s name so when we speak bad about God’s name we are going against our very own idenitity which is found in Jesus Christ and not being a good representative of God.

  11. I believe that most “Bible-believing Evangelical Christians” have an unconscious bias when it comes to Jesus and the Apostle Peter particularly.

    Pastors love to blast the Apostle Peter for being “racist” in today’s language. And on an unconscious level, we tend to carry this false accusation over to Jesus as well. Most of us would not admit it, or even be aware of it consciously. But our thought process is something like this:

    “Jeus and Peter and the rest of his buddies were just a little to ‘Jewish.’ Not aggressive enough, not educated enough, and not outgoing enough. Sort of provincial, and biased. Not stupid, but not really smart enough. Not very good at speaking and writing. Jesus got the work started, but something was “still lacking” in regard to the work at the cross, it wasn’t really finished like Jesus said. Jesus had to bring in a “back-up quarterback”, or “relief pitcher” to use sporting terms, to “fill up” what was “still lacking”. This “special man” would be sort of a second messiah, the savior of the Gentiles, since Jesus and Apostle Peter and the others were not up for that. This “Chosen Instrument” would need to be “the world’s greatest missionary” and “the worlds greatest teacher” and the followers of Jesus should spend most of their time listening to this savior of the Gentiles carefully explain the truth and correct Jesus’ theological mistakes. Jesus meant well, but Jesus just got a little tongue-tied sometimes, and Jesus couldn’t explain it the way Paul could – especially to a Gentile audience.”

    Were would be get this sort of idea?
    From reading Paul’s claims about himself. Paul wrote about himself:

    “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” [Colossians 1:24]

    “I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” [1 Corinthians 4:15-16]

    “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” [1 Corinthians 9:22]

    Paul the Pharisee, the self-appointed “Apostle,” made many other boastful false claims in his autobiography, which we refer to as “The Holy Word of God in the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles”. By claiming; “The Bible is The Word of God”, we have made Paul equal to Jesus theologically, and practically speaking, the voice of Paul drowns out the voice of Jesus.

  12. “Like it or not, if you want to understand what Jesus did, you have to read Paul (Galatians and Romans especially). A Christian theology that ignores Romans is not really Christian.”

    So nobody was Christian before Paul saw the light on the road to Damascus? I actually agree with you Philip, that a theology which ignores Paul is not Christian. But its not the Paul of Romans/Galatians that we should focus on. Rather its the Paul of Acts and the Pastorals. Any theology that ignores, for instance, 1st Timothy 1:8-11, 1st Thessalonians 4:3-5, Hebrews 12:4, (or their equivalents from the Gospels and Acts) is not Christian. In fact, this is precisely why the theology of Romans and Galatians, as filtered through Protestant interpretation of course, is NOT Christian.

    1st Timothy 1:8-11

    But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

    What is sound doctrine according to the Pastoral Paul? Not Trinitarian metaphysics nor Gnostic speculations on predestination and justification of the wicked on the basis of “faith alone,” but moral instruction.

    Hebrews 12:14

    Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

    Faith alone won’t save you; you have to follow after holiness or you won’t see the Lord.

    1st Thessalonians 4:3-5

    For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

    Here he tells us point blank “this is the will of God”, and its not what John MacArthur says, i.e. that you can commit fornication and God’s will be perfectly OK with it because “faith alone”….nope: This is the will of God, that you NOT commit fornication.

    We could go on and on with passages from the Pauline epistles that our modern Marcionites consider “lesser.” They love Romans/Galatians because they are easy to twist in the GNOSTIC direction of “knowledge/faith alone” but if you take Paul as a whole, you see that this doesn’t work. The Paul of Acts and the Pastorals, even of the “minor” epistles like Thessalonians, and of course of Hebrews if you consider it Pauline, shows that the Paul of Romans/Galatians is either highly misinterpreted and twisted (purposefully too) by Protestants OR that Romans/Galatians are Gnostic forgeries: take your pick.

  13. I agree that the name of Jesus is overused in an incorrect way in today’s society. I am a worship leader and when I sing songs that are speaking truth to the beauty, the power, and the wonder that the name of Jesus holds, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that we do not always speak it with such confidence and care. Exodus 20:7 says “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” People use the name of Jesus in vain pretty much every day and I think we hear it used in that context so often in that we almost become numb to His name in general. It is the same when people say “Oh my God!” We hear that phrase exclaimed probably every day by at least a few people and I feel that as Christians, we become numb to it in a sense that we won’t take the time to correct those around us. By avoiding this confrontation, we are allowing God’s name to be used in vain and treating it as though it is just another measly word in the English language. I, personally, have had experiences when I am reflecting on what the name of Jesus holds and I feel extremely close to Him. His name holds so much power and is the only name “under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

    • This is so very true. The name of Jesus seems to have become normalized in today’s society and that people have lost knowledge that the name of Jesus is so powerful. I can remember times where I have just whispered that name and the anxiety that I had been struggling with and I was overcome with peace. Only peace that he can give. 1 Peter 5:7 states to “cast all you anxiety on him because he cares for you.” People have forgotten the power that the name of Jesus has and so the name has become normalized. I liked when the blog post stated, “Jesus is not a magic word we use to invoke divine power, it represents the power of God for salvation” (P. Long) because that is so true. I think that society has to remember the power that the name of Jesus has in order for them to grow closer to him.

      • Professor Long, while reading your article a specific sentence about the name and word of Jesus stuck out to me because it talks about the meaning and the use of the name Jesus. The quote you said was “Jesus is not a magic word we use to invoke divine power, it represents the power of God for salvation” (P.Long.) I think this quote is very important and a good reminder to have when talking about our faith and Christianity. In the world we live in today there are so many different views on Christianity there are a lot that are good and a lot that are bad. I find that many people don’t like to talk about their faith because many people are not comfortable because they are not confident. I too struggled with mentioning that I am a follower of Jesus Christ not because I didn’t want to hide that I was a Christian it was because I didn’t know how to respond to the questions that came from people because I was scared I would lead them a different way. I know many people are like this in our world because there can be backlash from others about Christianity and many people just don’t want to cause any issues, so they stay quite about the word Jesus. Peter said, “there is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved.” I agree with you that people take the name Jesus in vain and use it for the wrong reasons. That’s why it is important to practice using Jesus’ name and being bold in our faith because with Him as our Savior we should have no fear from anything.

      • Brea, I really enjoyed your post and related to it personally that why I took so much interest in it. You talk about the name of Jesus being over used in society today and mentioned the importance of the name Jesus. I can relate to talking about whispering Jesus’ name because of the anxiety that you get. I struggled with this a lot in high school not because I wasn’t a Christian but, because I didn’t know how it would affect those around me because Christians can have a bad name because we are against “gay marriage.” This specific topic was what made me anxious about talking about Jesus. I didn’t want people to assume that I hated someone for a sin because we all sin in our lives and I truly believe that I am no better than anyone else. I like the verse you used 1 Peter 5:7 “cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you.” It is nice to know people who have struggled with similar issues and I think it is cool that we can talk about it openly.

  14. Professor Long,
    I loved your last statement. It really stuck out to me and made me think about how real that is and how people view Jesus. You stated, “Jesus is not a magic word we use to invoke divine power, it represents the power of God for salvation.” I think that people can confuse these. As Christians, we need to realize that Jesus died for us and that He is not just there whenever. He is ALWAYS there. But that does not give us the excuse to be immature and; as you mentioned use Him as a magic word. As Jipp mentioned, God called upon Israel. These were the people He held a covenant to. He then fulfilled his covenant later. The Israelites had to be strong and courageous and trust in God. Like everyone, they had things go wrong and life was tough. They always trusted in God though and didn’t just call on Him whenever.

  15. I can see where we have taken the name of Jesus and sort of taken away the power that it had back in the time of when Acts was written. We have sort of turned it into flippant little statement. It’s almost like when Oprah was running around saying “You get a car.” We have just stripped away all of its power. Throughout the Bible, we see evidence of “In the name of Jesus” being used really powerfully and it is sad that we have gotten away from that. I do not know if there is a way to give that phrase back its power, but I think we need to find a way to do that. Acts 4:12 indicates just how much power that phrase it has because it is the only name in which we can be saved. I think we need to remember this power and not take it away from “In the name of Jesus.”

  16. Jesus is power. All things exist through and for Him. By Him only can people be saved. This is the message that the disciples were spreading like wild fire throughout the world. This brought a lot of conflict from the church leaders (Jipp 57). Prior to Jesus the followers of God went to the temple to confess their sins and hear His word, but now the disciples were saying they could only gain this access through Jesus (Long). Jesus rose from the dead holding all of the power. His resurrection gave Him the authority to be the way to heaven. Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus is it. The resurrected son of God and man is the only way heaven, the only way to be redeemed. Jesus has power. His name has power. People belittle Him and His name. However, if we look at the very root of who He is and what He’s done, we see His radiating majesty. How are we so simpleminded that we look past it? Possibly it is because we have become to familiar with His name and His story. Perhaps we need to go back to the foundation. Maybe we need to be in awe of Him once again. If we do, we will be shocked by His power, sacrifice, and authority. Everyone will bow to Him, the Savior of the world. Stop. Take in what He has done, and who He is. The name of Jesus holds power because the one who holds this name has the power to save people, to pull them from the grasps of hell and make them His. That is power. That is what Peter was trying to stress. Let us not because like the church leaders who rejected Him (Acts 4:11). May we always accept and acknowledge with reverence the Holy power in Jesus’ name.

  17. There is a lot packed into this post and the comments, all of which is great material and valid discussion. So I think I will stick to your last statement regarding how we use the name of Jesus and whether or not we should change it.

    I was once present in a church where the pastor suggested that praying “in Jesus name” was synonymous with praying “according to Jesus will (aka God’s will)”. If we did not actually want God’s will, then we shouldn’t pray in Jesus name. That has been in the back of my mind throughout my prayer life since, but I still find myself praying “in Jesus name” because I WANT my prayer to be according to His will. I guess my hope is that if my prayer is not in line with His will that I will be confronted or shown where I erred.

    With that said, Exodus 20:7 is a go to reference for me regarding how to use the Lord’s name. Granted, this is an Old Testament passage, so those who don’t like my usage can feel free to fire away! But I feel that the 10 commandments in PRINCIPLE can still be effective ways to govern the Christian life today, even though they were given in a different context to a different people group who interacted with God differently (Sabbath being one example). However, if I pair that verse with Deuteronomy 6:4 (the Lord is one), John 10:30 (I [Jesus] and the Father are one), and Acts 4:10,12 (Jesus’ power healed the man and offers salvation) then I come to the conclusion that Jesus name is powerful, equal with God the Father, and worthy of my worship. In my opinion, that is ample reason to offer deep respect to my usage of His name (so in that I agree with you P Long as to how we may use if flippantly in our culture today).

    However, in terms of the usage of “in Jesus name” at the end of prayer or a tattoo of “Jesus” in Hebrew, I think that these are subjective to the person and their reasoning for using Jesus’ name. My personal reasons for praying in Jesus name are already stated, but I also admit that I am not faithful to my reasoning 100% of the time.

    My question here is how does the passage in Mark 3:28-30 apply? I see a definitive error in my reasoning with the OT passages since that same logic could be applied to calling the Holy Spirit equal to Jesus and the Father (which He is), but therefore misplacing Jesus name in my own sentence structure could become blasphemy of the Spirit. In addition…this opens a whole new can of worms regarding that passage alone, but I guess my main concern here is how can I best use the name of Jesus in deep respect, while still understanding that I am going to fail and fail often?

  18. I also liked your last comments about how Christianity these days overuses the name of Jesus without stopping to consider how powerful that is. The name of Jesus is so powerful and it is the only name that can save us. If we use his name in our prayers, we should not take that lightly. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. I grew up saying these sort of things in my prayers and it has just become a habit. However, after seeing this point of view I will consider the things I say regarding using Jesus’ name more than I have before and make sure I am giving it the proper respect.
    I think this also applies to people using his name in vain. I grew up knowing that it was bad to do that, but in my opinion it seems like people are beginning to become more loose with that too. I think that as Christians we should make more of an effort to keep the name of Jesus sacred, and that applies to tattoos which you mentioned also. I think that people get tattoos like that and of the cross and they do it for show and it sort of diminishes the meaning behind it. People need to realize the meaning of the name and have a little more respect for it.

  19. This blog post sparked some interesting conversation! I am a fan of Paul. I admire his ministry, appreciate his theology, and of course cherish his words as all scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). However, I adore, worship and love Jesus! There are days when I choose to read the Gospels because I just need to hear Jesus’ words. There are other days when I am interested in wrestling with some of the theological concepts Paul explains. In order to understand God’s will and know him better, we must read the entire Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament including the words of Jesus in the Gospels and the words of Paul in his epistles. Digging deeper into the Book of Acts this semester has given me a greater appreciation of Peter as well. He has always been one of my favorites, but we often focus on his flaws and mistakes rather than on his boldness and courage. Studying each of the people in the Bible gives us a greater perspective on God’s plan, His love and His will. While I am enjoying studying Peter’s ministry to the Jews, I am looking forward to studying Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles later in Acts.

    The name of Jesus is not to be used in vain. I always cringe when I hear children (or adults!) say, “Oh my God!” or “Jesus Christ” in anger. Years ago, I decided to say to the friends of my children, “Are you praying?” each time I heard one of them say one of these “forbidden” phrases. I always got the most confused looks and “What?” This gave me the opportunity to share briefly and gently about my faith. Even just a statement like “Oh I thought you were praying because we only call on Jesus’ name when we are talking to him” plants a seed and opens a conversation. So many songs come to mind about the name of Jesus and these are the most effective, for me personally, to draw me into worship!

  20. – I honestly had to read this blog at least three times to really understand what Professor Long was trying to get at. Because in my blog and how I understood it you can take what he is saying in two different ways. One way is that is he saying that we don’t need to pray the words, “in Jesus name” and the other said is yes we pray the words, “in Jesus name” but do we really understood what we are saying? Personally, I think it’s the second way. Until this blog, I really had to think why do we end our prayers in, “Jesus name amen?” Well, I look at the book of John especially John 14:14 where it states, “you may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” It’s only through his name, and I am not saying when we pray we are just asking for things, but the central idea is that we are speaking to Jesus directly in “his name.” Romans 10:13 states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The keywords in that passage are “call upon the name.” We are directly speaking to Jesus, God the Father, holy spirit which translates to the trinity. I would not personally say we use “the name of Jesus” into codewords because in the Bible God calls us to speak in the name of Jesus. (Give Bible reference.) God knows all things so he knows we are praying to him even if we did not specifically say the words, “in Jesus name” but I believe it is a reminder to ourselves of WHO we are praying to.

  21. After reading through this post, I think of the magnificent power of Jesus’ name. Truly, he is the son of God sitting at the right hand of his father in heaven and it just blows my mind. I find Peter’s boldness thrilling. He no longer is the little boy who disowned his teacher three times (Lk 22:54-62), but he is a powerful force full of truth. The Holy Spirit has lit a fire in Peter and through him people were being healed and saved.

    This passage reminds me of Jesus’ ministry. Time and time again, the religious leaders took it upon themselves to rebuke miraculous healings and this man named Jesus. However, Jesus did not back away, but he continually brought truth even in the face of death. There is a similarity with Peter and Jesus. In John 14:16; Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is exactly what Peter was proclaiming when he said there is “no other name.” Both of these statements show the exclusiveness of following Christ and the prophecies of the Old Testament being fulfilled.

    This definitely rubbed the religious leaders the wrong way, because obviously like P. Long said above, that they were the ones who made the rules, interpreted the scripture, and controlled the temple for worship. They were also the ones who killed an innocent man, if they considered these statements true. Peter, like Jesus, gave a whole new way of thinking. He was declaring the truth – the only way to receive salvation, Jesus.

  22. It is simple to agree that the name of Jesus should be one of the most honored names in not only the Christian community, but around the world. Often times today the name of Jesus is used loosely, even through the extreme cases of profanity. This use of Jesus’ name is utterly disgusting. In Acts Peter, along with the other apostles and believers, simply could have lost their lives due to plainly speaking the name of Jesus. This is even the case in some areas around the world today. In the United States Christians often take advantage of the freedom they have in speaking the name of Jesus and being able to openly express their love for Jesus. Yet, Christians in the US are at times timid to share the salvation that comes only through Jesus. Believers around the world who are brutally murdered for boldly proclaiming Jesus as Lord are often bold and proud to share about the salvation freely given to those who believe in Jesus. This contrast is quite drastic and also alarming. Why are Christian believers in the US often afraid to share about that salvation that comes from Jesus that others around the world are so willing to die for? In Acts 4: 12 Peter preaches so openly that the only way to be saved is through believing that Jesus is the only way as Jesus openly shared with the disciples in John 14:6 saying, “I am the way the truth and the life, no comes to the Father except through me.” After connecting these two teachings, it goes to show that Peter was truly listening and following what Jesus had taught and the way Jesus lived.

  23. In the 21st century, the name of Jesus I feel has been taken out of context, it has been diminished to an idea, or a religion rather than a person or a power. We tatto it on us, we print shirts out, and interpret Jesus no different than Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. Even Christains, like Proff. Long said we can use it as a “I am done praying now, look up”. That’s not what Jesus’ name is meant to be used for. We see that right in Acts 4:12, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”. Jesus is the means to salvation. We see that again in John 14:6, “”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Jesus is the only way into heaven, he is the only way for salvation and eternity with God versus away from God. If we pray and end with the name of Jesus, I think that’s fine, but like most things we say from the Bible, it needs to be understood and in context. We need to realize what we are saying, not just a way to end a prayer like saying Amen ( or awoman… funny humor). As Christians, we need to dive deep and understand the power of Jesus’ name, throughout the Bible God gave names and changed names ( Ex: Abram to Abraham). Names are of great importance, and we need to realize that Jesus’ name is not just a name to be thrown around. It comes with power, like Proff. Long said, “It represents the power of God for salvation”.

  24. Isn’t it interesting how much the stories in the Bible can be pulled out of context and used wrongly for the purpose of modern Christianity? The Pastor of my home church has always emphasized the importance of the context behind every passage of Scripture; it is not wise to pull out verses/ passages to fit our own agendas. I enjoyed reading the story (and this blog) because it gave me more insight into the significance of what Peter is saying in Acts 4:12 about the transition of reliance on the Temple to surrender and salvation through Jesus Christ (Long). He says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (2088). Peter is stating that no other name besides Jesus will grant salvation and that through him exclusively will anyone be saved (Polhill, 2088). Of course, this would be a huge shock to anyone in power, which would happen to be the Sadduccees. The temple had remained a huge, if not the largest, source of power and authority in the Jewish culture, and Peter was practically saying that the Sadduccees were not in control any longer. The Sadducees were no longer the ones who were claimed to be the way of salvation, it was now Jesus! The significant cultural change that this induced would strip away the power of the Sadducees and place it rightfully so to the name and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


    Crossway Bibles. (2016). Esv: Study Bible: English standard version.

  25. I agree that Christians in today’s world dont truly understand how powerful the name of Jesus really is. Over time things an tend to become normal so now when people hear Jesus’ name they sort of brush it off as if the things he did were not important and vital for us to have salvation. And I think all Christians today can learn from Peter. He was willing to stand by his word in that he believed who Jesus was and that he was the messiah. Even when that meant going against people who could put him to death. And in today’s world believers tend to let other things take Gods place just as the temple was trying to do in Peters time. But we need to start taking a stand for what we believe just as Peter did.

  26. I have recently questioned the concept of ending prayers with “In Jesus name, Amen.” It was something that I did not really think about a lot until a little while ago, and more so while reading this blog. I agree that the phrase can be used out of context and in ways that lose the true significance of what Peter was conveying. “Peter’s statement that there was salvation in no other name was an implicit invitation to the Sanhedrin to place their faith in Jesus” (Polhill 2088). This shows the context of the verse and phrase and what Peter meant by it. I think we have “twisted” it to somehow make it more applicable to us and our own circumstances rather that take it for what its original purpose was. We see more in our culture how the name of Jesus is used swearing circumstances rather than lifting and praising the name of Jesus. I think that is something most Christians can agree is wrong. But the place believers see it more in a “Christian” context is with prayers. Is it wrong to end a prayer like that? I do not think it is inherently bad. But along with Long, I think it there should be more thought put into why we say the phrase and that it should mean something to us (Long).

  27. In the society and culture that we live in, I do hear the name of Jesus thrown around too much. The visual of the tattoo example seems to be more on the aesthetic side of Christianity rather than the truth of what it means to be a follower of the Savior. I would agree that the tattoo of Jesus’ name on someone takes away from the meaning and significance of the power that it holds. In Acts 4:12 Peter is proclaiming such a powerful message by explaining that Jesus is the only name given by man that has the power to do miracles. This goes into the works of the Trinity and how God is omnipotent and God alone does these types of miracles.“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16A). In our society today it is also becoming more common for the name of Jesus to be used in casual conversation and even in the context of using God’s name in vain. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” (Exodus 20:7A). The name of Jesus is used with little to no thought process and it causes people to fall into sin because of how normalized we as a society has made it. I truly believe that as believers we need to be more intentional about who we surround ourselves with and remind ourselves of the power that the tongue holds so that we can be honoring to God in all that we do. There is a purpose for this example in the Bible and it is for us to learn from the mistakes of those who came before us.

  28. Through reading the beginning of Acts 4:12 and how Peter tested the authority, by telling them that God did a good deed by healing this man. So then why should Peter be punished? This was a jaw-dropping moment because they just killed Jesus so they can’t go back on that.
    In today’s society the name Jesus is thrown around so much it has become a social norm to use it without its true meaning. This post really touched my heart and made me reflect on how much I use the name of Jesus and what I mean but using it. I thought back and I think the word lost its meaning to me, like how the words ” I love you” can lose the sense of butterflies.
    “Jesus is not a magic word we use to invoke divine power, it represents the power of God for salvation.” When really thinking about how much power this one word has, it shocks me and helps remind me how much meaning it has in my life and others. Using Jesus with no contact can lead people and me into sin. Reading Acts 4:12 reminded me that we should want to show people the meaning behind the name of Jesus. I think hearing people say the word without its true meaning is an entry point to talk to them about how powerful the word is.
    One possible reason why the people Peter was preaching to was so shocked at his boldness was that Peter was going against everything everyone knew. The crowd was probably shocked by how confident Peter was when no one knew if he was truly telling the truth because God told Peter all of these things.

  29. I agree wholeheartedly with your statement about the name of Jesus being used way to loosely. It is nothing to just throw around and we know better, I feel many of us are guilty of using the phrase “in Jesus name” way to casually including myself just about every time that I am finishing praying. It should be more like how the people in Acts treated it. In Peter’s sermon in Acts 4:12 he stated “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”. This gives a lot of rightful power to the name of Christ. This passage highlights the unique role of Jesus as the Savior of the world and the importance of having faith in Him for our salvation. It also is a reminder of the importance of the scripture of the Bible because salvation can not be found through any other means or through any other person which is why “no other name” is the main message. The phrase “no other name” shows the importance of the name of Jesus as well as the fact that there is no one else who even comes close to him and no one or nothing can save us except him.

  30. I really like what was said at the end of the blog post about the “Name of Jesus”. The “Name of Jesus” statement is really overused. It is something that I am guilty of as well. Every time I hear someone say that in a prayer, I think about how the prayer is about to end, just like the blog post says. Peter says it himself in Acts 4:12 when he says, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” It seems like in today’s culture, the “Name of Jesus” doesn’t hold the same weight that it did in the time that Peter was describing it. Not using the “Name of Jesus” in the right way diminishes the point that Peter was trying to make. Peter goes on to say that “there is no other name under heaven by which men may be saved.” This shows the power that the “Name of Jesus” has. This is not something to take lightly. As the blog post says, it isn’t helping anything to get the word “Jesus” translated into Hebrew tattooed onto your body. The “Name of Jesus” is what leads all of us believers into the promise of salvation. As Christians, we all need to do a better job of preserving the “Name of Jesus” and making sure that it still holds its stature, the same way it did when Peter was proclaiming it as the only name “by which men may be saved.”

  31. I thought this topic had a lot to say about the meaning behind “in the name of Jesus”. I would agree that we as a society use this too often at the end of our prayers that it doesn’t show the true meaning it. I never really had the true understanding as to why we say this at the end of our prayers, but reading through the meaning behind the statement, I learned that there is much more to the statement. The name of Jesus comes from Acts 4:12 when it discusses the man by which was saved under the name of Jesus. I liked the statement “Jesus is not a magic word we use to invoke divine power, it represents the power of God for salvation” (Long, 2019, para 7). This shows that if individuals want to be right with God, they can only do it through the name of Jesus. This statement brings a lot of boldness, but through this modern perspective, Peter is stating this to a group of Jews who thought they were the ones who held the right way to salvation.

  32. I really appreciated reading through this blog post and gaining more of an understanding about the authority in Jesus’ name. As John 14:6 says, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God except through Christ. For Peter and John to boldly approach the council and proclaim this truth about Christ must have been very offensive. I think even for us, in our own personal lives, it’s offensive to hear that Christ is the only way (and his name has the most authority.)
    I will comment on Dr. Long’s thoughts regarding using the name of Jesus to flippantly get out of prayer: I completely agree with you. I think Jesus’ name is thrown around and almost even abused. We slap it on car stickers without thinking a thing. I think if we are to use his name to close a prayer, we need to understand his power. Whenever I say, “in Jesus’ name, amen”, I genuinely do try to remember that Christ can/will accomplish anything because he has all power.
    His name has profound authority that our human minds will never be able to fully comprehend. That’s why we need to remain reverent of who he is to us now and who he is forevermore: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

  33. This is certainly true about Christianity today, that the power behind Jesus’ name and what it represents is understated. Certainly, the high priest at the time found it a threat to his status and position if he had indeed been guilty of killing an innocent man. It would have also seemed very bold and contrary to what they were used to when it came to where they could worship (Long, p. 4). The fact that salvation now comes through Jesus Christ, and not through the high priest and the Temple would have also been a major change for the Jews at the time. Sometimes, I think we do not appreciate enough that we have the ability to commune with God and praise Him for who He is right where we are at. Or, to understand how essential it is to our spiritual lives and the power behind prayer. On top of that, it can be easy to be flippant in the use of His name in our prayers. As the blog stated, we do not gain divine power from the use of His name, rather, there is immense salvific power behind the name of Jesus Christ, which is the highest authority possible (Long, p. 3). As Romans 10:13 says, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” No one can obtain their way back to God without the name of Jesus, and that is something that needs to be understood more in popular Christianity.

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